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Guest christianholmes

My real life flight training continued...

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Well, after almost a year hiatus due to A) Being broke :( Have a small baby & 2 year oldI decided things have gotten back to the point where I could start flying again. You see, my wife got a big promotion so it will feel good spending HER money for once! Plus, my kids are now 3 & almost 2, so they are less work (but still alot!).Anyway, after booking several lessons over the last few months and having them all cancelled due to weather, I finally got a good morning. Since my old instructor left (suprisingly, he's now in marketing, and only teaching as a part time job- he had no interest in flying for a living, but managed to rack up 2,000 hours by the time he was 24!), I had to try a new instructor. This guy is young- just started teaching last May, but he seems knowledgable. Also, unlike many of the young hotshot guys, he's kind of 'nerdy' and soft spoken, which I like. He wasn't afraid to let me fly, and only chimed in when he had something to show me/tell me. So, I told him I'd try to go pre-flight the plane and see what I remember, and I have any questions I'll let him know, which was fine with him- He actually just landed the plane, and was having it refueled (A Warrior BTW) so although all pre-flights are important, it's not like the first flight of the day or something. So, with my checklist I got to the plane, and spent a minute or two staring at the checklist, and putting everything together in my head before I start. It came back pretty quickly actually- I even remember the engine oil quantities. So everything looked good, and he came out just as I was getting in the plane. One thing I've always found, being 6'3" and 240, is that not many airplanes fit me comfortably- I always end up wriggling around. So this time, I took off my jacket, took my keys, cellphone, and all that junk and stuffed them in my headset bag in the backseat. I have to have the seat all the way back in these planes, which gives me legroom- but my left shoulder is unfortunately pressed against the window- totally uncomfortable, but good enough. Also, I decided I was going to stop using the kneeboard- It's just kind of tight in there, and I figured I can just stuff it in the back of the copilot's seat, and pull it out when I need it. All in all, I was much more comfortable than I was in the past. I'm not sure why I didn't do this before- I'd always have my keys digging into my thighs, etc. I don't think I felt comfortable with my old instructor- or maybe it was the plane? I don't know- but after so many years of dreaming of flying, and pretending to fly (in flight sim) I think I was a bit overwhelmed. Honestly, I think the hiatus gave me enough time to really let everything sink in, and fortunately it seems I didn't forget too much.I definately recommend to anyone that is taking lessons and finds they are feeling nervous/overwhelmed everytime they get in/out of the plane that maybe they should slow down a bit- I think many people rush it, and end up quitting because they are being pushed faster than they want to go.So, I get the plane started, make my call to ground and off we go. I accidentally told the tower we were holding at two zero rather than just two- he picked up on that :) My instructor said if that is my only mistake I'll be doing really well. Truthfully, after everything going on, I just forget what runway we were at- so it wasn't a bad radio call, it was a bad situational awareness problem on my part.We are cleared for takeoff, and I taxi out, takeoff and climb out. I notice that the instructor has his hands in his lap, which is great- he trusts me rather than assume I'm incapable and baby me (I had another instructor who did that- very annoying). At the same time, I could be completely incompetent! A brave move on his part, but I liked it. At 700 he tells me to turn East. We climb to 2500 on our way over the Connecticut shoreline, and chat for a bit. Naturally, I figured this would be refresher flight since he hasn't flown with me yet. I was not looking forward to stalls. As we get to the Connecticut River, he tells me we're going to do some steep turns- so I do a steep turn to the left first. I forgot how even in these little slow planes, a steep turn can induce a few Gs! I roll out sharply back on my 090 heading, and managed to stay right on 2500. And since I have had no feedback on my flying to this point, I decided to ask how I did. He just non-chalantly says "Perfect- That was to test standards. You definately know how to fly". Whoah! I brushed it off with a "thanks, I've practiced those quite a bit" but I was really excited. I thought for sure I'd screw everything up- especially since the last time I was in the plane I didn't feel this comfortable, yet I hadn't flown in a year.So we do the right hand turn with the same result, and then the dreaded "ok, lets do some stalls". Crap- I hate those- they always make me feel stupid. So we do a few approach stalls first- I do the stall correctly, and recovery is within 50 feet or so- but I get a little flusted and drop the flaps too much or whatever. So he gives me a few pointers, and we do it again. My philosophy is that I want to practice the stuff I am afraid to do the most- I'll never practice stalls again without an instructor, so why not do it now? I'll have plenty of time to perfect my landings. So after 3 of those we do 1 departure stall- those are super easy, and I don't mind them- there is nothing to it really. I think the biggest part is just making sure you follow through with the recovery procedure- Like I reduced the throttle before I was supposed to (after recovery) and he just said "Keep full throttle until you are past 90 knots". Duh- I knew that, just got overwhelmed. So I plan on doing more of these until I am totally comfortable with them. But I will hate every second of it :)And then we do an emergency engine out simulation- which is not really hard, but again you need to know all the steps- and i forgot them, so I forsee many of those in my future. Again, not fun stuff, and the goal is to never have to use it! But it will be good to know when you do...So after a little longer, we head back for a few landings. For some reason, I felt REALLY comfortable as we approached the airport. I called tower for a touch-and-go and they told us to report midfield. I got down to pattern alt, entered the pattern, and he cleared us for a touch and go. I sort of instinctively pulled power back to 1500 RPMs and put in a notch of flaps, and then just flew the rest of the pattern. I F****ING LOVE LANDING! It's so exciting. So I'm jockeying the throttle a bit, wings are level, everything feels so... good! 50 feet, throttle to idle... level it out... nose up... hold it... bam! wheels down. So I bring the flaps up, and we start the takeoff roll again. I say "whoops, I think I brought it down a little early". He goes "I have students with 30 hours that I can't get to land like that!" MAJOR WHOAH!!! I was like "Thanks! That's nice to hear!". So we do one more, and I am definately too high on final, but I cut the throttle early, and we make a steep decent onto the long and forgiving runway. I land a little right of centerline which he points out, but says "You did extremely well today- almost perfect- I would never guess you haven't flown in a year!". So we go back, and they show me how to use the new online booking program- I LOVE THAT- schedule master I think it's called. I can login from anywhere and book lessons. I already booked 10 more :)So, I'm back in it bigtime- I really feel like the time off helped more than hurt. Now that my brother is in his final hours, I have to try to catch up with him. I have to say, it made me VERY sad the day he called me and told me he soloed! (Although i was happy for him). Flying has always been my dream, and I always thought I'd finish first. Now I realize it doesn't matter who finishes first, as long as we both finish!

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Enjoyed reading your post. In the summer here in Phoenix, it's just too dang uncomfortable to take lessons (Imagine a preflight at 8AM with it already 120 degrees on the tarmac). So I am also resuming mine although I've tried to get some flight time at least once a month with a buddy or two. Funny, since I am an old roller coaster freak who loves air time, I don't mind the stalls but I am finding myself more rusty on landings. My most recent landing was "saved" by the strong shocks of the Xair trainer I was flying--felt so smooth and I knew it was a pretty bad landing. I dropped onto the centerline rather than flew to it. But I don't want to steal your story--thanks for the great post!-John

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Steal away!All I am trying to do is get people excited- there are thousands of people here who for one reason or another haven't made the plunge to real life flying and I am just trying to show people what happens when you do!120 degrees? Are you kidding? Forget it- Although the negative temperatures in the winter here aren't much fun either. At least these planes have heat (no A/C).I just can't wait to get back in the air! All you need to do is commit, and you will find a way. Not many people have the cash to spend on flight lessons ($150 an hour x 3 times a week = 1800 a month!) but there are ways- I have really paid attention to my credit the past couple years, and just got the golden goose- a capital one card that is 5.99 percent for BOTH cash and credit, and a $30,000 limit. So I will have a nice credit card bill for the next year or two- but you only live once- and although this is probably too personal my wife just had a real health scare, and after we fortunately found out that everything would be OK, we decided to pursue our dreams, because time will catch up sooner or later! I am trying to get her to take lessons, but instead she has opted (for her fun for the next few months) to have a long weekend at her best friend's parents place in Naples, FL- which is a multi-million dollar mansion. So I know she will have a great time, and I told her not to tell me what happened, I'd rather not know :) A bunch of gorgeous 30 year old girls drinking for 3 days CAN'T end well. Look out Naples!Can you fly at night? My instructor said I can book lessons up to 8PM too- as long as we are doing pattern/emergency stuff around the airport it's not a problem, and that will take care of my night stuff. I have heard Phoenix is insanely hot though, so I feel for you- I can't imagine the turbulence with all the heat rising.

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Enjoyed reading your post there!My brother gave me a flying lesson for my birthday, but I may well have to wait for the New Year for the weather...It will happen...Congratulations on "getting back in the hotseat".All the best!Andrew

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Good to hear that you have as much fun as I do flying for real.Had you taken your lessons north of the border they would have had yougo through not only stalls but spins too. That had me a little bit anxious when the instructor demonstrated but when it got to my turn, I did 3 or 4 of them. Great feeling in the end. And about 700 feet drop for 2 full rotations in a Cessna 150.Keep on enjoying it. It's special to be up there.Martin

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Intresting reading.I head that some pilots say that when they step into the a real cockpit, they loose 50% of their brain... is that true?And do you feel like flight sims have saved you lots of hours learning how to fly? I want to fly someda

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50% of the brain may be true- It's very easy to talk about flying in retrospect, or over a beer- but when you get in the cockpit it's put up or shut up time. You CAN'T make mistakes. Forget to switch the fuel tank, and you can unbalance the plane, or starve the engine. It can be overwheming even for experienced pilots- which is why checklists are a must. The one time you forget to check the controls before takeoff, and takeoff with the lock still in them will be the last time you ever do it.Although I can hardly call flight sim 'realistic' when talking about actually grabbing the controls and feeling an airplane (especially after today- read my new post) it does help with alot of things.

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